Mailbag: Youkilis back to leadoff?

Mailbag: Youkilis back to leadoff spot?

When everyone returns to the lineup, will Kevin Youkilis resume his leadoff role, and will that carry into next season?
-- Adam P., Winter Park, Fla.

I can't dare venture what next year's lineup will be when we have no idea what the composition of the team will be. But I do think that Youkilis will be back in the leadoff spot for the rest of this season once the lineup is healthy again. Obviously, Coco Crisp is struggling mightily, so the Red Sox likely take the pressure off of him by putting Youkilis back up top.

Should the Red Sox give Coco Crisp another chance next season? Or should they try to trade him for another center fielder and use Youkilis as the leadoff hitter?
-- Mahmoud, J., Walpole, Mass.

I'd give Coco another chance. Give him the chance to prove that this year was just a fluke of bad health and perhaps putting too much pressure on himself to replace Johnny Damon and please the demanding fan base of Boston. Coco is not at the age where he would just lose all of his skills overnight. His career should still be on the upswing, so perhaps in 2007 he will be the kind of player they expected him to be this year. I watched him for four weeks in Spring Training when he was the best player on the entire team. I know that Spring Training doesn't mean a whole lot, but he was an impact player during that time, and was just never the same after coming back from the finger injury.

I'm almost positive that the Red Sox will not make the playoffs now that they are so far behind the Yankees. But do you still consider David Ortiz the MVP?
-- Jim S., Boston

In my mind, I don't think Ortiz is any less valuable just because the Red Sox faltered as a team, in large part because of the barrage of injuries. Ortiz has proven time and time again the last four years why he is one of the most valuable players in all of baseball. I think he got robbed of the award last year, so if he wins it this year for a non-playoff team, perhaps it will be a case of poetic justice. So, yes, I think Ortiz is still worthy of the MVP award.

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Who did the Red Sox trade for Javy Lopez? Also, who did they get for David Wells?
-- Tim H., Danbury, Conn.

Adam Stern will likely be the player to be named later for Lopez, and the Red Sox -- who traded Wells for a player to be named later -- will probably get top catching prospect George Kottaras. Stern and Kottaras must clear waivers to switch teams, which is the only reason the deals have not been completed. Once the season ends, waivers will no longer be required.

What is the status of Matt Clement? I haven't heard anything about him in a long time.
-- Jonathan B., Melrose, Mass.

Matt has pretty much spent the entire second half trying to rebuild the strength of his right shoulder. There's a chance he could pitch in a game or two during the final week of the season, but it's not that likely. The big thing the Red Sox want is for Clement to know where he stands heading into the winter. Can he go about the offseason on his regular training program, or will he need to undergo surgery? That should become clear by the end of the season.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.